Order Tara's Bicycle Touring Cookbook Today!

Life & Death

by Tyler

Yesterday, just as we arrived off the boat from Nong Kiaw, we watched wide-eyed as three little piglets were being slaughtered. They lay on the ground, their throats slit, warm blood pooling rapidly into the dirt. It was hard to watch the little creatures twitch and grunt softly as the life drained out of them.

Slaughtered Piglets

I crouched down near one of them, looking into its panicked eyes, trying to convey some sort of comfort during its final moments, something to ease its pain, some ineffable reassurance about the circle of life and death. I failed.

Slaughtered Piglet

Shortly after, the babe went still, and where a living creature had been moments earlier, meat lay in its place. The experience rocked all of us to our cores, and since I had pigs as pets growing up, I think I was probably the most affected of all.

Pork Harvest

The encounter was an intense reminder to give thanks for the life that was sacrificed for each and every piece of meat we eat. Here in the villages of Laos, there are no styrofoam trays of sanitized, saran-wrapped pork chops, or vacuum sealed packages of smoked bacon, or enormous plastic bags of hot-and-spicy pork rinds. There is nothing to disguise the undeniable truth: to eat meat, one must kill.

Tara and I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and how we want to approach the subject of harvesting meat on our homestead. We know we want to have chickens and a pig at the very least, but when the time comes to kill them, I'm not sure how I will handle it. There is one thing I do know for sure however—vegetarianism is in my future if I can't do it myself.

Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine have produced several short episodes which discuss these issues for their series The Perennial Plate (which is based in my home state of Minnesota!). I've placed one of the more poignant videos below.

This morning, on our way to the dock, we come across the same three piggies we saw slaughtered yesterday. This time, they're splayed open, roasting over some coals in preparation for a feast. I like to think the celebration will be for the birth of a child, and thus, the circle of life spins on.

Barbecuing Piglets
Previous Entry
In Years Past and Future
2010 - Καλημέρα!
Next Entry


Ye gods, I'm glad to be vegetarian! Yeeeeech!
Posted by Michael on April 11th, 2011 at 3:29 PM
I think that knowing where meat comes from is very, very important. Meat doesn't just appear, and in our society it seems that they do everything to make it feel as though meat doesn't come from living creature. If you don't know (or ignore) where meat comes from, like you said, you can't really appreciate it and be thankful for it.

I grew up around hunters - not hardcore hunting like Travis grew up with, but still. As a kid I saw fresh kill, and I didn't have a problem with game dying so that I could eat it. I did have horrible issues with animals dying for no reasons though...

I think that at first seeing something die is traumatizing, but eventually you get used to it. There are humane ways to do it - doing it yourself ensures that you know how your meat was raised and killed. It's much better than what we get from the market! This way you can also use the whole animal, there is way less waste, which I think shows way more respect to the life it was.

I am also looking forward in the future to raise my own food, and vegetarianism is definitively *not* in my book! If India has thought me anything, is that I am utterly miserable without meat.

Anyway, that's my "two cents" on that! :P
Posted by Magalie on April 11th, 2011 at 6:47 PM
Thanks for sharing the video, very inspiring. Although it was fitting, could hsve done without the sad music, made it a little bit of a tear jerker :(
Posted by Natasha and Pete on April 12th, 2011 at 1:31 AM